229 Days Until Celebration and the Uncertain End (Part 4)
The club popped and rocked in music and color. The DJ was some big name and Endwin was their in to the after party. It was not the main concert and party at the club that was of any importance, it was the after party. The after party was where the team would be able to get the most of their information. They were supposed to figure out what type of person Zeydar was, what magic he had, where he lived, what people knew about him. It was odd conversation if it weren’t for the fact that EverDanger had their cover stories to the minute details. They’d be able to slip it into conversation: “oh hey, I knew a Star once a boy named Zeydar.” Then they’d be able to find out what the drunk and high people knew. Then they’d find out what they knew about him, and then get their in to Star Campus.
The afterparty was hosted by one of Endwin’s Circle friends. Circle friends that would have contacts and ways of getting passes to Star Campus. Circles that Evester needed to butter up and to convince that they wanted to show him around Star campus. As if he wasn’t able to step foot on Star campus. As if they were doing him a favor.
It was perhaps what confused Heiphillia the most, Evester understood as he drank from his cup watching the room. Spotting his friends and Heiphillia’s family with ease, he let his gaze wander away. His friends blended in, but he knew them all too well and he could not bring attention to them. Heiphillia and her family stood out. If not for Uly and Kim standing with them, they’d be questioned by their oddity.
Heiphillia didn’t understand that one could not just waltz onto Star Campus. Star Campus had spells protecting it. It was more heavily fortified than the CloudCity entrance. At one time it had been easy to get passes to the campus to hang out with Stars. Stars and Circles would cross back and forth all the time. But then The Night of Oblivion happened and, from what Evester knew from personal experience, the Aralax created a panic.
His friends had told him that it was near impossible to get on Campus without a crystal clear reason and squeaky clean record. The Stars were being protected more than ever, especially after the destruction of Star Campus in Arcadia, and the destruction of her Tower. Zeydar was from Arcadia, based on his last name. His friends told him that only one person survived the Arcadia collapse, a Star whose name was never made public. One person, Zeydar— Evester was sure — which meant that his information and campus would be under even more protection. Had Evester not cared to hide his identity, he would have walked to the campus and revealed himself. He would have never been turned away, but he could not, and Endwin couldn’t saunter on either. They had a cover to keep. Evester just had to count his blessings that Zeydar was in Valaria, although he had assumed as much with Arcadia’s collapse. Valaria was where most went when the other cities fell, leading to her over population issues.
Evester focused on the moment at hand. They needed to get as much information as possible, while getting the in to the afterparty. That was why they were partying. To blend in. The club was not so bad, and Evester’s buzz was all he needed to keep, in order to continue to blend in.
“Come with me.” His brother called to him.
“Already.” His brother worked fast. Evester fought back the traces of upturned lips on his face and followed.
Leading Evester to the group, Endwin brought them past the VIP section to where the high classed Circles sat laughing. They were people he recognized by face, however their names escaped him for a moment in the darkness. Their names were important to society, but Evester never cared to remember them, not when his friends were only middle or low class Circles. The pompous attitude of the other high classed Circles turned even Evester’s stomach. They looked over him with a look before continuing their talks of concerts, and celebrities, people that they met and how their parents couldn’t get them the latest and greatest due to the shortages. Due to over population, they would speak in distaste.
They complained about the politics of the wars being fought by the Xs. Why it was that the Stars and Xs hadn’t finished off the Aralax already. As if any of them had ever seen the monsters outside of their televised viewing experience. As if Valaria wasn’t a microcosm of entitlement and over indulgence.
“What’s your name?” Karly Aimes, second daughter of the Aimes family, a prominent technology family in Valaria. The names came back to Evester from the hours of drilling faces and voices into his head by Rayda. In a moment Evester knew all their names, and none of them recognized him.
“This is Aether.” Endwin answered. “Aether Myle.”
“Myle?” Graceon, son and heir to the Phyn seat on the Valarian council, second only to their own family. Evester was not sure how he had forgotten Graceon’s name, considering that Evester and Graceon had been friends once. “I’ve never heard that name.”
“Third tier.” Another whispered to him, Hester Phyn his sister. Endwin formally introduced the others to Evester. They did not pay him any heed as a middle class Circle. His status told them that Evester was a no one. Nothing to look into. There were six of the high classed Circles that Endwin so called his friends.
“How did you meet?” Karly asked.
“He’s one of Evester’s friends.” Endwin answered. The name Evester made the conversation between the other three drop: Osta, Pepper, and Hazee. Last names were lost on him again, as they weren’t as important, for they were not as high classed. Graceon’s expression changed the worst. How had they fallen out again? Evester tried to remember. He remembered it was before he moved to Ovaria with his father, or had it been after? It probably was after. Evester remembered pissing off Graceon for some reason. Regardless, the fact that Evester’s name created such a reaction had Evester a bit on edge.
“EverDanger didn’t have a Aether.” Osta disagreed as Hester searched through records for him. Osta Markson, first class Circle, parents were in marketing. Pepper Pactron, daughter of a bank CEO. Hailena “Hazee” Zeeara, daughter of a famous actress and actor combination long divorced. Evester remembered their information as they investigated him.
“I wasn’t a friend with EverDanger, I was friends with Evester. We knew each other back when we were kids. Like Kim.” Evester answered feeling Graceon’s eyes glowering on Evester as if trying to peel back the disguise. As if he knew and on cue Evester heard her voice.
“Endwin!” Kim called out to them.
“Kim? When did you get here?” Endwin asked.
“You think I’d miss out on a party?” Kim scoffed jumping over the barricade, and walking past the bouncers towards the table. No one stopped her. She was Kim of EverDanger. Despite her lower status in society, everyone knew who she was. She was as high classed as any celebrity. Kim walked over and stopped short. “Aether?”
“Kim.” Evester smiled at her. Kim hugged him as if seeing and old friend and his cover was finalized. Kim was Evester’s closest friend from childhood and no one could dispute that. Even if Graceon could claim that he’d known Evester longer than any other EverDanger member, he could not claim that over Kim. Evester knew Kim from her family’s involvement in the project, and play dates as kids when his father took care of him at the lab. Evester had not met Graceon until after he had met Kim, despite how close their families were.
“Where did you come from?” Kim looked him over, examining him, as if she knew that Graceon was hyper focused on Evester.
“It’s a story, let me tell you… I was brought to—“ Evester began.
“He messaged Evester’s old number at the house the other day and I invited him out.” Endwin answered cutting Evester out.
“You can tell me later.” Kim winked before smiling to the others. “Where’s the after party at? I got EverDanger here, and you know us.”
The way she said it was demanding enough that they knew she meant business, but who would turn down the chance to take EverDanger into a closer group setting and to talk to them? It would be madness and these Circles would not dare.
“My house after.” Graceon answered. He gave Kim a charming smile, which she deflected.
“How long are you in town for Aether?” Kim asked Evester.
“Not too long.” Evester pressed the smile.
“Well then, we must catch up.” Kim took Evester’s hand. “I’m taking him from you Endwin. No worries you’ll get him back.” With that Kim drug Evester off, giving him a different sort of allure. There was no way he wouldn’t be invited back to the after party after that. Kim laughed as they walked away placing her arm around Evester. “They were starring you down and didn’t even realize.”
“They are drunk.” Evester refrained from biting his lip in contemplation.
“Or high. No excuse.” Kim kissed his cheek.
“Graceon may have picked up on it.” Evester warned her. “Do you remember why he and I had our friendship falling out?”
“You think that snake would betray you if he knew?”
Evester had a hard time believing he would, “No, I almost feel like he’d hold it over me.”
“Certainly.” Kim then pulled him to the dance floor. “Wasn’t it because you chose Ovaria and your father over staying at Valaria? Because you chose me over him? Or was it because of what EverDanger became in Ovaria.”
EverDanger was really formed in Ovaria. Only Evester, Uly, and Kim had moved to Ovaria. The others had all been found in Ovaria.
“Does it really matter?” Kim asked.
“No. Not really. He won’t know I’m me.” And Graceon may have also simply been prejudice towards Evester because of his rank.
“Good. Now, let’s dance.” Kim pulled Evester close, her hands around his waist, eyes holding him steady and bleeding his thoughts away.